SHORT REVIEWS Our seventeenth edition of Short Reviews for 2023 finds us carefully selecting our final strike at new releases from April and we’ve strangely struck upon a bunch of heavy rock records at the end of the month. I’ve done my best to showcase the most interesting works that I come across while still presenting some decent variety here but choices boil down to what sticks, what inspires or what is worth writing about. These are more easygoing than longform reviews, so relax and think for yourself — If you find something you dig go tell the band on social media and support them with a purchase! If you’d like your music reviewed, read the FAQ and send promos to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tanith is the folkish mid-70’s heavy rock side of Russ Tippins‘ (Satan) songwriting realized alongside a choice group of Brooklyn, New York-based musicians and this ‘Voyage‘ is more than just a sophomore longplayer from their troupe, but a full step into realizing the ideal of a full analog process (recording, mixing etc.) It seems the only real wrench in their gig this time around was the sudden exit of their second guitarist, a key proponent of their Thin Lizzy influenced approach to building harmonies which has long been a major signature for Tippins‘ guitar work. Nothing was necessarily lost from the experience, they’d found a second guitarist for these sessions and this album quickly proves their approach has only become more tuneful in the last four or so years since the acclaimed ‘In Another Time‘. Beyond the walking and jogging paced hard rock shuffle of ‘Voyage‘ once again makes full use of the harmony-rich dual vocal performances shared between Tippins and bassist/vocalist Cindy Maynard and from my point of view elaborating upon those possibilities is the major goal of this record. Otherwise the analog recording and render is brighter than prior records from the band and this especially warms the harmony focused voicing of the band to a bardic hum, which feels just a few steps beyond the late 60’s folk rock storytelling and into the more oaken side of groups like Rush and Uriah Heep. The record is a bit long for how involved its many moving parts are but each song finds its place, or some memorable wing to flap about with.
Necronomicon are one of very few early German thrash metal bands who still sound like a heavy metal band who’d gotten their start back in 1984, meaning vocalist/guitarist Freddy never lost sight of the thrash metal riff and its universally applicable format. Back in 2004 when thrash metal revivalism was a mega-trend and reformations were increasingly common I remember distinctly being impressed that ‘Construction of Evil‘ was from a band that still understood that their listener doesn’t want the “new” sound, they want the real thing. While I won’t say that every single record from the southeastern crew has nailed it I do think that ‘Constant to Death‘ will make great sense to fans expecting late 80’s style thrash metal with a bit of an ‘adventurous’ edge in terms of touching upon some early hardcore punk influences, some power metal ideas and things which naturally translate to the declarative and defiant nature of thrash metal. This also comes with socio-political lyrics which illustrate a world of opportunism, injustice and cruelty lead by the cult of death that humanity becomes in its overpopulated, burning state. The score is admittedly a little bit low for how much I liked this record and appreciated its variety (a great expansion upon ‘The Final Chapter‘ overall) but this is due to there being far too many songs (13 total) which could have been edited down to just nine or ten.
Emissary have begun setting themselves up as of my favorite new Finnish heavy metal bands with this previously self-released (circa 2022) self-titled debut mLP. If they continue along this raw, loud and shuffling-forth 80’s U.S. power metal meets Manowar plus a bit of ‘Burning Star‘ sound I’m all-in. Formed between members of Ranger, Septure, and a former Chevalier drummer. The studio effects don’t add that much to the garage-level noise of the tape (well, this is the vinyl release) but their sound is clear enough to let their moderate use of synthesizers poke through, an important part of their intent going forward as it seems progressive rock and early progressive metal will ultimately be part of the equation as their compositions evolve. They generally keep it ’84 here, no sign of cheap NWOTHM poodle rock here, and I’d particularly appreciated the prominent feature of their bass guitar sound and the absolute grit of the vocalist as he goes for it throughout.
I’ve enjoyed most every release from Oulu, Finland-based black metal trio Black Mass Pervertor since I’d been sent ‘Life Beyond the Walls of Flesh‘ back in 2018, not only for their skull-freeing classic influences but for the punkish existential rot and ribaldry their over-the-top imagery and lyrics bring to a borderless sound. This third full-length channels the animal man, a carnal and stinking beast with a naturally chaotic and opportunistic mind which could only be quelled by mystery cults to Dionysus, death-wish cults, and in this case mid-paced cult black metal which tends to keep its focus in the ~2.5 to 3 minute realm on average, making a fuss but moving on quick enough to keep the brine of it all squelching while its hot. There are a couple of outliers in the mix this time, particularly the eerie heavy rock turn-up of “Wanderer of the Desolate Path” and the dissolving trot of “The Return of the Outsider God” as I’d felt they’d stumbled upon something unexpectedly atmospheric and alluring just as the deeper pocket of the album began to hang open. In terms of something more readably black metal for the plebs, “Into the Lightless Womb” is certainly strong and that almost Greek/Finnish black metal type swerving of the riff finds precedence in “Triumph of the Spirit”.
[Note: I’ve covered the pig’s penis with a banana.png because I’m using the image for YouTube, a corporation that enforces censorship in unpredictable ways. I apologize to anyone hoping to see the pig’s extensive dong in this fine illustration.]
‘Acid Disorder‘ is the sixth full-length album from Italian psychedelic/acid rock quartet Giöbia and this one is expectedly a full-bore gallop towards the outer-spaced, contemplative yet energetic mind palace which only becomes more uniquely theirs with each release. For many the introductory album from this group was ‘Introducing Night Sound‘ about ten years ago and I suppose back then their sound was “retro” to my ears compared to their evolution since, which still has the distanced vocals and effects drenched instrumental voicing in maximal and occluded phrase, and the different frankly lies in the motion of the rhythm section which tends towards a neo-psychedelic/space rock adventure most often. This allows ‘Acid Disorder‘ to become an adventure which stoner music appreciators can likewise enjoy from a more natural stance. I personally miss some of the dark, creeping and obsessed side of the band being pronounced but pieces like “Screaming Souls” still get me there, albeit with a kicking motion and not a wide-eyed stare. I’ll likely rate this one a bit higher once I’ve spent a bit more time with it.
Why haven’t I covered noise rock/post-hardcore records in a while? Bad album art is certainly part of the equation, to start. Just don’t be so “ugly“, eh? While ‘Wrong Dream‘ ain’t pretty per my hifalutin fancy Manitoba, Canada-based trio Tunic have continued to fiddle with their focus on the stark, existential mathematica of noise rock’s motoric rhythms and the jangling strike of circa ’79 post-punk influenced harass making for another half hour of pure dread for the concerned polis. That worrisome diarrhea you get when you think about losing yourself into work that doesn’t represent who you are? That’d be the intent as the lyrics herein take on the “machine part” life, the cog in the wheel you embody, and the grinding away of the self that comes from the work week among other increasingly personal subjects. If you are as big of a fan of USA Nails as I am you’ll hear a bit of their ringing atonal guitar scrambling (see also: “Whispering”) and cold-shouted drive on standout single “Disease” but this is a tonal apex where frustration mounts, it isn’t all heavy lifting. “Protected” kinda shows us both sides, the wriggling gloom of their slower paced, mounting dissention and the release of that tension in its final third. I’d really enjoyed this sea change beyond their more math rocking/post-hardcore ballooned debut overall, the aggressive/frustrated grind of the band only improves per my own taste. What I’d like to hear much more of otherwise is this weird ass post-punk experiment of “Indirect”, if they’d had eight or nine tangents that all felt as different as that, I dunno it’d implied Tunic could stretch themselves a bit more and subvert the singular voice of their gig a bit. The score would be higher if there was like, I dunno, a big goddamned dragon on the cover or whatever.
Again, bad album art per my own taste but another great kinda noise rock-adjacent record from a band who’ve been working up to a bigger release for some years now. These Beasts are a Chicago, Illinois-based trio who present a sound that lands somewhere between The Cutthroats 9 and -(16)- which has few true compatriots at the moment beyond Portland’s Ils. Their crossover between mid-90’s sludge metal/noise rock fuss and circa 2011 Red Fang-esque tension has an appropriately stoney edge to it but, definitely a disturbed side to its register per the vocalists increasing focus on hissed, wrathful performances on a few songs. If you grew up listening to records like ‘Drop Out‘, definitely tie this one on.
<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly